In the glory days of radio, a DJ could launch a musician’s career with the spin of a record. That same power of individually-curated music discovery is at the root of Broadcast, a new Web application that allows anyone to stream their own online radio show live to a global audience.
Broadcast is part of Grooveshark, a music streaming service founded in 2006. Grooveshark sports a music library of more than 15 million songs, and this sizable library is where users pull tracks to use in their Broadcasts. Unlike streaming giants Rdio and Spotify, Grooveshark allows users to upload their own music files to the service’s library, an ability that has gotten the company into some long-term (and ongoing) legal disputes with record companies. It also makes for a highly diverse music library, featuring rare tracks from international artists and unsigned bands.
We were excited to give Broadcast a spin. What music fan doesn’t relish the chance to share their amazing musical taste with an audience? We fired up the preview version of Grooveshark with Broadcast and hit the Start Broadcasting button to the left of the player controls near the bottom of the screen. We found we were able to get our own station up and running in under a minute.
We were prompted to title our Broadcast and give it a genre and description so other users could find it. Broadcasts are completely public and can be joined by anyone else using the service.
To get our Broadcast started, we used the Add Song search tool to find a few tracks to kick off our hot new radio show. Searching by title, artist or album triggered a drop-down menu of search results, with the option to add the tracks to our queue. We added a few songs, and just like that our music choices were being broadcast live over the Internet to anyone who cared to listen, which, at first, was no one.
Broadcasting music in an empty room isn’t much fun, so we brought some of our Laptop coworkers in to check out the social experience. The Broadcast interface is designed to encourage interaction between listeners and the person running the show, and a few handy tools make it easy for listeners to chat and search the Grooveshark library to suggest tracks. Once a track is suggested, the DJ can instantly add it to the Broadcast’s queue.
We were impressed by how much flexibility Broadcast’s interface offered. It’s easy to rearrange your queue on the fly so you can curate the mood of your room. Listeners are able to see the songs that have been suggested, and can vote these songs up or down. The songs that have been voted up appear at the top of the suggestion queue, so they’re more likely to be approved by the DJ. We only had eight people in our room and suggestions still came in faster than we could approve them, so the need for a rating system for suggestions quickly became clear. It’s a thoughtful touch and is a great way for listeners to help moderate the feel of a room.
Broadcast holds a lot of potential as a tool for bands and podcasters who want to develop their audience. Broadcasters can currently record up to 30 seconds of audio from within the Broadcast interface to include in their queues, and we can see how the ability to record longer stretches of audio could lead to meticulously produced Broadcasts complete with station IDs, commentary between songs and even interviews with artists. We can imagine musicians launching their albums on this service so they can share in a social listening experience with their fans.
Broadcast launches today at preview.grooveshark.com and is available for anyone with a Grooveshark account (you can sign up for free).